Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Germany: Martin Schulz steps down as SPD head

Germany: Martin Schulz steps down as SPD head

German Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz announced on Tuesday to resign with immediate effect as Party chairman.

He made the decision after days of personnel debates within the SPD.

"I depart this office without bitterness or resentment", he said, nearly a year after he was elected as SPD party head with 100 percent of the vote. SPD members will vote on the coalition deal next month - the result is expected on 4 March.

Schulz's other announcement Friday - that Andrea Nahles, the party's parliamentary leader, would take over as the Social Democrats' chairwoman - also gave rise to a chorus of concerns.

Michael Mueller, head of the SPD in Berlin and mayor of the German capital, told the newspaper "Berliner Morgenpost" that he did not reject Nahles' candidacy for the leadership as such, but was in favor of a "clean process" as established by the party constitution.

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The new governance agreement, however, is yet to be voted on by party members.

"There is no constitutional basis for such a move in our statues", Baumann-Hasske noted, adding that it would hence be impossible for Nahles to make "significant decisions" including with regards to party finances.

Nahles said she would start campaigning at the weekend for members to vote "yes" to a coalition with Merkel, who has led the European Union's most populous country and economic powerhouse since 2005.

Deeply divided over the coalition deal and the division of ministerial posts, and facing a slump in opinion polls, SPD leaders are trying to convince 464,000 party members to back the deal in a ballot on which Merkel's fourth term hangs.

In a cartoon on Tuesday, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily showed Nahles with a whip riding an SPD snail.

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Schulz's own plans were becoming a major distraction for the SPD.

Scholz played up the SPD's achievements in coalition negotiations with Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Bavarian allies, at which the centre-left party won the powerful finance ministry to the frustration of many in the CDU.

They argue that the SPD needs to go into opposition to rebuild its identity and reconnect with voters, because at the moment too little divides Germany's two largest parties.

Gabriel last week launched an extraordinary attack against the party's leadership, apparently angry because Schulz was planning to take up Gabriel's position as foreign minister.

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